(COVINGTON, La.) In the final weeks of the second quarter, each St. Paul’s religion class will participate in the annual Adopt-a-Family holiday charity project in conjunction with St. Tammany Project Christmas. This organization partners with local businesses and schools to help impoverished children in St. Tammany Parish receive gifts on Christmas Day.
According to project organizer, Campus Minister Jeff Ramon, the benefit of working with the Project Christmas program is that it allows all students to participate on a level they are comfortable with or willing to, whether it be simply donating money, shopping for the children’s gifts, or helping at the distribution center.
“This organization reaches numerous families in St. Tammany Parish,” Ramon said. “Typically, the process looks like this: we receive a list of families and children in those families. We know the children’s genders, ages, top three Christmas wishes, and clothing sizes. We use funds collected by the SPS student body to shop for these items. They are then tagged for the particular child, then sent to the Project Christmas distribution center.”
Ramon is spearheading the project this year, and he will be attempting to implement some slight changes in reference to criticisms received about aspects of the Adopt-a-Family program in the past. Previously, all the fundraising efforts solely went towards gifts for the children. This year, criticisms have been voiced regarding the needs of the entire family unit.
“There has been a rising demand for support of the family. This year we are looking to give the family unit some items that collectively they can all use: towels, dinnerware, cookware, etc.” Ramon said.
Another complaint of years past was that students and faculty delivered the gifts directly to the families’ houses, which in many cases left the children missing the magic of Santa. Nevertheless, this problem has been addressed for this year.
“The parents or guardians of the children pick up the gifts from the distribution center,” Ramon said. “What makes this program unique is that it allows parents to represent Santa. In previous years, students have delivered gifts directly to the home. Oftentimes, this was done a week or even two weeks before Christmas. Although we would attempt to arrange drop-off times with the families for when the children were not present, there was no guarantee. We appreciate the anonymity and opportunity that St. Tammany Project Christmas gives their families.”
There have been circulating rumors that the Project Christmas has been reorganized to now be a part of The American Red Cross, but Ramon cleared up the gossip.
“The American Red Cross is not running the program,” Ramon said, clarifying the misconception.
Monetary donations are currently being collected in religion classes now through Friday, Dec. 1. On Dec. 4 through 7, volunteer students and teachers will shop for the gifts, which will be blessed at the Immaculate Conception litrugy on Monday, Dec. 8. On Dec. 11 and 12, the gifts will be delivered to the St. Tammany Project Christmas headquarters.
There are other ways St. Paul’s students can get involved volunteering over the holidays including preparation and delivery of Christmas Day dinners, spearheaded by alumnus John Baldwin. Preparations are made in the St. Paul’s cafeteria on Christmas Eve, and deliveries are made on Christmas Day. Volunteers of all ages are welcome on both days.
For more information on Project Christmas click here.